In Athens there are orange trees growing out of the sidewalks.
Americans warned me about the crime and filth, the vandalism of this city, but I was too humbled by the ancient architecture and the shameless bougainvillea to notice. They told me the streets would be awash with riots and strikes, but there were only business owners, sweeping their proud stoops, and uniformed schoolchildren calling to one another through mouthfuls of bread and cheese, and there were these orange trees busting up through the sidewalks. People talk about Greece’s debt, but they forget about its gut. They forget about the unearthing and the valiance; they forget about the fertile history of this country. It’s deep and layered and full of grit. This country is known for pushing up its sleeves. My husband asks why we should travel so far. These people, these places, are no different, he says, people are people no matter where we go. I disagree. These people are different. Their roots go deeper than we have the capacity to understand. They are like the orange trees. They’ll bear fruit no matter where they land, proud fruit so bright it will light the streets on fire.